steve grimes
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steve grimes


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"Key Impressions"

There's only one chance to make a first impression, and for Hawaii recording artists only one chance to win Most Promising Artist at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

The award has helped launch the music careers of past winners Willie K, HAPA, Keali'i Reichel and Raiatea Helm, to name a few, and it's open to artists of all styles of music. The five finalists this year represent the broader diversity in the Hawaii record industry — pop and rock as well as Hawaiian — quite well.

Traditional Hawaiian music is represented by Mark Yamanaka and CJ Helekahi, other genres by Michael Keale, Maui luthier Steve Grimes and pop duo Jody Kamisato and Chris Salvador, who work under the name Heart & Soul.

The winner will be announced at the 34th Annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards on Sunday.

"Hilo will be there for sure," says Yamanaka, a finalist in six other categories including Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and Hawaiian Language Performance. Yamanaka's album, "Lei Pua Kenikeni,"include Hawaiian and hapa haole standards, and a Hoku-nominated original composition, "Kaleoonalani," he wrote for his daughter. It would have represented Hawaii beautifully at the 2012 Grammys.

Grimes, a Maui resident whose profession is making stringed instruments, has worked as a musician since the 1970s. He said he decided to record a solo CD because he had so many original songs left over from an album he'd recorded with his band, Mojo Gumbo, and because "I (also) had the opportunity to have some of the great players that I've built guitars for over the years contribute to the CD. (The album) was the actualization of a dream of mine to combine my original tunes with my original guitars."

Grimes and his friends play an assortment of mainstream genres — acoustic guitar ballads, jazz and electric blues. His lyrics provide incisive commentary on contemporary cliches, America's fascination with celebrities and what he considers the over-development of Maui.

Doing the album also "increased my awareness of how demanding my lutherie business is because I fell behind my production schedule ... . I'm back to having a good balance between making music and making guitars, and am back on schedule now."

Michael Keale describes his first-ever album as "a musical memento for my friends and family, especially my granddaughter to remember me by ... . Though music is constantly changing, remembering who we are and where we came from is important. People ask me what's the old jazz standards doing on there? Uncle Moe (Keale), my dad, my mom all loved those songs. It didn't make them any less Hawaiian."

"(Doing) take after take can sometimes be so exhausting," he said of the process of recording the album. As for the expectations people may have given that Moe Keale was his uncle, "It's hard to live up to each and every one of those expectations, so the best thing to do is be yourself. That's become evident with my family members that continue to entertain today — we sound and act the same, but sometimes totally different!"

It's been 12 years since Pure Heart won the Most Promising Artist category in 1999 with an album of bright up-tempo mainstream pop music, and with that as precedent Heart &?Soul — Jody Kamisato and Chris Salvador — can't be counted out. Their sound is reminiscent of Pure Heart, but they have two distinct voices where Pure Heart had but one, and where Pure Heart's repertoire included remakes of vintage pop chart hits, Heart &?Soul's debut album consists entirely of acoustic pop originals.

Kamisato recalls the recording process as "definitely a learning experience. It wasn't so much of harder or easier than we expected but more of a journey of learning for us, and a lot of fun. Kapena De Lima played a huge role in our recording process and we had a great team of musicians that worked closely with us as well."

Hana resident CJ Helekahi commuted to Oahu — a two-hour drive to Kahului, then the flight to Honolulu — for a year and a half to record "Ka Mahina," a beautifully crafted collection of Hawaiian and hapa haole standards.

"Thankfully, I had a lot of help from (Hawaiian recording artist)?Leokane Pryor who sings along with me on my CD. He told me what to expect due to his experience with two of his own albums. I guess it was easy for me because I had help, but still difficult to accomplish."

One of the highlights of Helekahi's album is a newly written place song, "I Will Never Leave You Hana, Maui," describing his feelings for his home.

"Hana has nurtured me in a culture that I'm proud to be a product of," Helekahi says. "I've also recorded this album to fulfill a dream that my grandparents had and to gift my parents and many musicians, mostly from Hana, that have given (me) their knowledge and mana'o. I can't imagine where I would be without them in my life."

Helekahi is also up for Island Music Album. He considers himself a long shot in both categories but plans to represent Hana at the Hokus on Sunday anyway.

"It's a little discouraging for me, but I thought to myself that I should go to represent the town I'll never leave in spirit, Hana, Maui." - Honolulu Star Bulletin

"Labor Of Love"

Honolulu Star-Advertiser
November 5, 2010
‘Labor of Love’
Steve Grimes
(Steve Grimes/Grimes Tunes)

Hawaii resident luthier (guitar maker) Steve Grimes steps forward as a recording artist with this eclectic aptly titled collection of original songs. They range in style from soft acoustic ballads to swinging electric blues. The subject matter from love and loss to incisive social commentary.
Grimes, a Maui resident for almost 30 years, speaks for many on the Valley Isle with “Moving To Maui,” an unflattering commentary on wealthy newcomers whose concept of progress is cutting down trees, building McMansions, and speculating in real estate. The swinging blues arrangement is a perfect platform for Grimes’ lyric commentary.
He also comments on current affairs with “That’s News To Me,” a playful yet insightful piece on what constitutes “news” these days. “Don’t want to stay at the Paris Hilton, or the Brittany Hotel,” Grimes complains in one verse while a seven-piece band lays down a funky blues-rock groove around him.
Grimes shows his imagination as a lyricist with “What They Say” — almost every line is a cliche of one kind or another.
Grimes was a musician before he started constructing instruments. He emphasizes his talent there with “Olinda Na Chuva,” a beautiful piece of instrumental jazz that features several talented guests. “Timeless Love” also strips things down to feature Grimes’ guitar playing, although he sings on this one as well.
The other love songs are no less remarkable. Uptempo or down, they address the myriad permutations of the ever-fascinating emotion in articulate style.
There are also some songs that sound like requiems, but if they are Grimes doesn’t share that information in the liner notes.
“Labor of Love” is available at
- Honolulu Star-Advertiser

"Guitar and song craftsman"

The long awaited new solo CD entitled "Labor Of Love" from Steve Grimes chronicles and showcases the last decade of his original song compositions. This exciting new release, comprised of thirteen original pieces, is an ensemble of genres from blues to bossa nova, from folk to funk. "LOL" takes the listener on an eclectic musical journey through the wit, grit, humorous "notes to self" and other personal belongings that end up in the lost and found of the Grimes mind.

"Labor of Love is a cool and passionate soundtrack for a wild musical ride through New Orleans, Brazil, Maui, and the dark side of the moon", says Barry Flanagan, of HAPA.

A singer/songwriter since the age of 13, Steve started composing songs on a guitar that he purchased at the local Salvation Army Store in Seattle, Washington for $20. He actually needed to fix the damaged guitar before he could play it, and through this successful repair job Steve saw a the possibility of a side-career to his musicianship. Over the years Steve has poured his soul into both songwriting and guitar making. His obsession with the study and art of lutherie (instrument making) became the "love of his life”, and he has become known as one of the premier luthiers in the world, having fashioned custom instruments for the likes of George Benson, Steve Miller, Earl Klugh, Larry Coryell, Pat Simmons, Willie Nelson and more. The brand name "Grimes" is recognized internationally by connoisseurs of fine guitars and synonymous with the highest quality instruments.

The turn of this new century was also a turning point for Steve in his musical endeavors, as he immersed himself once again in his other passion, song writing. 2009’s release "Mojo Gumbo" included nine of Steve’s originals.
On "LOL" , Steve enlists the services of some world class musicians: Pat Simmons of the Grammy Award winning Doobie Brothers, legendary jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, the late great harmonica player Norton Buffalo, national dobro champion Rob Ickes, Barry Flanagan of HAPA, Jon Cleary and Hutch Hutchinson, both of Bonnie Raitt's band and Rick Vito of The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band.
Steve's gigging band includes some well known players, including Bob Harrison on bass(Joe Farrell), David Choy (Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald) Paul Marchetti, and Gilbert Emata. Even with the powerhouse lineup Steve still manages to keep it sounding like – well, like Steve Grimes. He is, after all, an original.

- Maui Time


Still working on that hot first release.



Currently at a loss for words...